Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Samuel Dobbs

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In 1816/17 a German textile merchant, Edmund Joseph Kelleter, decided to build a steam-powered spinning mill, and obtained the services of two British mechanics, ‘very dextrous artists’, to construct the mill. One of these was Samuel Dobbs, who settled in Aachen/Eschweiler.

In 1819, when the textile mill was ready, Dobbs founded the machine factory Englerth, Reuleaux and Dobbs in co-operation with a family member and an engineer of the Englerth coal mines. They initially made steam engines for the family’s own mines, but soon others.

In 1822 Dobbs set up a wire mill in Eschweiler.

In 1823 Dobbs travelled to Britain with Eberhard Hoesch on an industrial espionage mission. Subsequently Dobbs constructed the Hoesch iron puddling works in Düren. He was then involved in several new firms in the Aachen district, namely Dobbs & Nellessen (1833-36) and Poensgen & Dobbs (1837-40). Everything ‘that comes from the hands of this man is beautiful’, wrote the District President to the Ministry in Berlin.

Dobbs was not the first in the region to construct steam engines, but his were the first commercially successful ones.

The above information is mainly condensed from a Paper by Alfred Rekendrees[1]

Dobbs's first employment on the Continent was with John Cockerill at Seraing. The business which he founded in 1832 with Carl Franz Nellessen built the first locomotive constructed in Prussia.[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Dynamics of Overlapping Clusters: Industrial and Institutional Revolution in the Industrial District of Aachen, 1800-1860' by Alfred Rekendrees, Copenhagen Business School
  2. [2] 'Richard Cobden's German Diaries' edited by John R. Davis, K. G. Saur, Munich, 2007, p.101